Criminals continue to conduct violence, as they always have and always will. Jacksonville is employing one new approach designed to limit the violence.
Will is work? That remains to be seen. Proponents claim it has helped elsewhere.
Cure Violence has worked in places such as New York, according to studies that have been done. Local officials hope it will work here.
But various other approaches, such as “broken window” and community policing also have been both lauded and panned.
Meanwhile, the violence continues unabated locally. Almost every day there is a story about a shooting or knifing, often in certain parts of the city such as Northwest Jacksonville.
Police respond to the violence as they always have.
This week a police officer shot and killed a man who reportedly was threatening a veteran in a wheelchair on West State Street.
After almost every such incident, activists criticize the police action, usually without a clue what happened.
This week, the police union fired back on its Facebook page, posting this challenge:
“Fortunate our officer and the victim are unharmed. Unfortunate the suspect’s actions caused him to lose his life. Officers are exposed to these types of calls in Jacksonville and around the country on a regular basis. We invite Isaiah Rumlin from the local NAACP, Ben Frazier from the Northside Coalition & any other local activist out to the academy to experience the shoot don’t shoot simulator. We challenge you to put down your keyboard and microphone to experience this demonstration. WJXT4 The Local Station / News4JAX, First Coast News, Action News Jax, The Florida Times-Union.”
It wouldn’t hurt reporters to take up the challenge and find out something about what it is like on the streets.
Years ago, I was riding one night with a policeman in the same area as this week’s shooting. Suddenly, he sped his car across the street into the parking lot of a bar then located there.
He rolled up to a man who was holding a knife to a woman’s throat.
“Take if off her,” the officer ordered, reaching toward his gun with his right hand. I thought I might be about to see the criminal blown away.
But, after a few more commands, the armed man got the message and complied. The grateful woman sobbed as the officer put on the cuffs and we took him to jail.
It is no picnic out there.
Jacksonville has tried to keep up with technology, such as radios, cameras, robots, and more recently things like ShotSpotter, NIBIN, the Real-Time Crime Center and the Crime Gun Intelligence Center. Mayor Lenny Curry, who has promised to do everything he could to address the crime problem, has supported all those efforts and additional police manpower.
Cure Violence seeks to treat crime like a health problem.
Those conducting the program try to keep tabs on criminal activity, criminals and potential criminals, and to mediate and prevent retaliation when violence occurs.
That may be its weak point. I don’t know how much violence is the result of retaliation, but suspect it isn’t much. Still, it may help save lives and property, so it should be given a chance, and a fair evaluation of its impact.